Cats are not just pets; they are members of the family. We quickly become attached and do not like to think about the fact that one day we will inevitably lose them.
We recently lost two beautiful Maine Coon brothers within six months of each other, aged 15 years. In the back of our minds, we had obviously wondered about the life expectancy of a Maine Coon and had hoped our two would live beyond this.
Our research uncovered a wide variety of expected Maine Coon lifespans, depending on where we looked. Of course, there is no definitive way to calculating the average – all you can do is take note of what other owners, pet insurers, and breeders experience and hope your Maine Coon will live for somewhere within this range, or longer. It’s certainly not an exact science.
The most commonly suggested Maine Coon lifespan seems to be 12.5 years, with the average range being 10 to 17 years. That said, more and more Maine Coons are exceeding this life expectancy and surviving for as many as 20 years.
A lot depends upon genetics but owners can do many things to keep their Maine Coons fit and healthy to survive well into their senior years.
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What Can Affect the Maine Coon Lifespan?
Many factors can affect the Maine Coon lifespan including genetically transmitted diseases, cancer, diabetes, rabies, poor nutrition, the lack of exercise, incomplete vaccinations, poor care, accidents and a lack of stimulation.
As good health is closely linked to lifespan, owners can play a huge role in increasing their cat’s lifespan by making sure its needs are fulfilled.
Before you become a Maine Coon owner consider the following points:
- If you buy from a breeder please make sure they are only breeding from cats who have been screened and declared free of genetic disorders. This is the only way to stamp out genetically transmitted conditions.
- Unless you have a bottomless pit of money at your disposal to pay for your cat’s health care, carry out some research into quality pet insurance providers so that you are aware of the costs. This will cost around $25 per month (for a 1-year-old Maine Coon).
21 ways to increase the Maine Coon lifespan
There are many ways in which owners can attempt to increase the Maine Coon lifespan and ensure they give their cat the best chance of a long, happy and healthy life. Follow these suggestions and you will know you did your best for your cat.
Make sure your Maine Coon is vaccinated and its vaccinations are kept up-to-date as recommended by your vet. If you have rescued or adopted a cat, or are unsure of your cat’s history for any reason, seek advice from your vet.
There are many illnesses that can be prevented by simply having your cat vaccinated. The following vaccinations are recommended for all cats: FVRCP, FeLV, and Rabies. Here’s what they protect against:
- Herpes (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis) – This is the ‘FVR’ in FVRCP
- Calici – This is the ‘C’ in FVRCP
- Panleukopenia (Feline Distemper) – This is the ‘P’ in FVRCP
- Feline Leukemia – FeLV
Take Your Cat for Annual Health Checks
If you take your cat for a check-up once a year this will give your vet an opportunity to administer any necessary booster vaccinations, check its weight, heart, teeth and general health.
Give Your Cat a Healthy, Balanced Diet
There are many balance ready prepared meals for cats. Good quality cat food will provide all the vitamins and minerals a cat requires for good health. Cats need good quality protein, so it’s not a good idea to give one a vegetarian diet.
Offer your cat wet and dry food every day and plenty of fresh water. Keep a check on your cat’s size and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for portion sizes.
If you choose to make your own cat food research the best ingredients and ensure it contains the necessary vitamins and minerals: A, B1, B2, B3, B6, D, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Potassium, and Taurine.
Some people like the idea of feeding cats raw food as they believe it mimics a more natural diet.
Before going down this route, first, ask yourself what is the lifespan
Keep Your Cat’s Weight Within a Healthy Range
Fully grown Maine Coons can weigh anything from 8 to 35 lbs – but don’t try to hit the upper limit by over-feeding yours. As a guide, when you view a Maine Coon from above it should have a visible waist – you may need to smooth its fur to notice this.
If in any doubt, ask your vet for their opinion. Overweight cats often don’t live as long as cats in the normal weight range. They may suffer from heart problems, breathing difficulties, high blood pressure, joint problems, diabetes, and urinary tract disease.
Make Sure Your Cat Gets Enough Exercise
Maine Coons need plenty of exercise to keep fit and healthy. If you keep your cat indoors or allow it outside in an enclosure, make sure it has plenty of space to run, jump and climb.
Stimulate Your Cat
Maine Coons are playful cats so provide them with plenty of toys, especially if you are out at work during the day. Make sure you set aside time to play with your cat every day to provide vital mental stimulation and exercise its cognitive and motor skills. And of course, play is another form of exercise for your cat.
Look After Your Cat’s Teeth
Maine Coons are prone to developing gingivitis which can lead to more serious gum disease and tooth loss. This, in turn, can prevent a cat from eating properly, leading to a variety of health problems. Follow a good routine to will keep your Maine Coon’s teeth in good condition.
Keep Your Cat Free of Parasites
Fleas, worms, and ticks can have a detrimental effect on a cat’s health and well being, so it is essential to keep them at bay with regular treatments. These are available from your vet and can be administered at home.
Groom Your Cat Regularly
Maine Coons are incapable of grooming themselves thoroughly. They lick themselves clean but cannot stop their fur from knotting and matting. You may see them tug at knots occasionally but without your intervention, they will lose the battle.
Matted fur tightens and tugs painfully at a cat’s skin causing sores to develop. This leads to a very miserable, sad cat. Matts are difficult to remove and in worse case scenarios, have to be shaved off under sedation at the vets.
Sedation comes with risk, so its best to avoid the necessity by grooming your cat once or twice a week and keeping an eye out for any developing matted areas.
Keep Your Cat Safe
Be aware of the dangers where you live if you intend to let your Maine Coon go outside. Wild animals, other cats, and traffic all pose a threat. Statistics show that cats have more accidents and run-ins with other animals at night so try to lock yours safely indoors from dusk till dawn.
Avoid The Chance of Falls
People are of the opinion that cats can fall from great heights without suffering an injury. This is a myth so ensure your cat isn’t tempted to climb out of high windows and can’t fall from a balcony.
Cat-proof Your Home
A house can have hidden dangers for a Maine Coon, especially when it’s home alone. Secure loose blind cords to prevent your cat from getting tangled.
Don’t keep ornaments that can shatter into dangerous pieces anywhere that your cat might knock them over. Cats can squeeze into the narrowest of spaces and get trapped so check your house out for any of these.
Ensure your TV is secured and can’t topple. These are just a few suggestions. Take a good look around your home for potential hazards to a cat.
Only Use Safety Collars
Collars with buckles should not be used on cats. If you want your cat to wear a collar then ensure you but a snag-proof, breakaway collar which snaps undone if it snags on anything so that your cat never becomes caught up and unable to free itself.
Look For Signs of Illness
If you spot any changes in your Maine Coon’s health, monitor it carefully. If your cat stops eating and drinking, becomes lethargic, vomits or has
diarrhea for more than one day, take it to the vets.
Cats become dehydrated very quickly and if left untreated can suffer organ failure. If ever you are in doubt, take your cat straight to the vets.
Keep Poisons Locked Away
There are many everyday items in the average home that are poisonous to cats. These include alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, garlic, onions, grapes and grape juice, raisins, batteries, household cleaners, insecticide, fertilizers, antifreeze, painkillers, and other medicines.
Banish Poisonous Plants
These pants are hazardous to a cat’s health: aloe, azaleas, chrysanthemums, lilies, mistletoe, poinsettias, rhododendron, tulips.
Keep Chicken Bones Out of Reach
Chicken bones, especially when cooked, should not be given to cats. They splinter easily and can cause untold damage to a cat’s throat, stomach and intestines. Always make sure a tempting cooked chicken carcass is moved safely out of your cat’s reach.
Only Use Cat-safe Shampoo
If you bath your Maine Coon, ensure you use a cat-safe shampoo. Most cats have a good cat-lick wash after a bath to restore their own scent to their fur. You don’t want your cat ingesting any nasty chemicals from an unsuitable product.
See these recommended brands of Shampoo For Maine Coons.
Don’t Feed Them Your Food
A certain way to end up with an overweight cat is by giving it morsels from your plate, especially if you’re eating sugary, processed food. So avoid this at all costs. Plain chicken, meat and fish won’t do any harm but if your cat has had its dinner already then they contain calories that it doesn’t need.
Have Other Pets for Company
Maine Coons can get bored and lonely. And a bored and lonely cat can develop depression. The perfect solution is to, get another cat at the same time – from the same litter if possible and your finances permit.
Check the Health of All Your Pets
If you have a multi-pet household then ensure all of your pets are healthy and vaccinated so that they don’t pass illnesses to each other.
Why Maine Coons are Predisposed to Genetic Health Problems
Over the years, producing thoroughbred Maine Coons has led to inbreeding, which in turn has led to genetically transmitted diseases. The only way to stamp out these conditions is to stop breeding affected cats.
Many breeders now only breed from cats who have been screened as negative for genetic problems but there are still some who don’t adhere to this ethical standard.
Sadly, the Maine Coon lifespan and quality of life is greatly affected by these health conditions.
There are four main genetically transmitted conditions known to affect Maine Coons as follows:
Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)
Maine Coons can suffer from HCM a common heart disease in all breeds of cat. HCM is a thickening of the walls and enlargement of the heart.
Genetic screening can show if a cat is a carrier of the gene that causes HCM. In order to eliminate this genetic fault, carriers should not be used for breeding.
Sometimes, it is possible for Maine Coons without the faulty gene to naturally develop HCM.
Symptoms of HCM are labored or rapid breathing, open-mouth breathing, and lethargy. In the worst cases, HCM leads to sudden death before the age of 4. It can be diagnosed with an ultrasound heart scan.
A breeder with good ethical standards will only breed from cats who have been genetically screened as negative for this specific gene mutation.
As cats without the faulty gene can develop the disease it is wise to have regular scans of breeding cats and genetic screening of any kittens that are to be used for breeding.
There is no cure for HCM but it can be managed to an extent with drugs that relieve the symptoms.
Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)
SMA is a genetic disease, specific to Maine Coon cats. The symptoms are instability, unsteady gait and abnormal posture due to the loss of nerves in the lower spinal cord and a weakening of the muscles in the back legs. Cats with this disease can lead fairly normal lives indoors.
DNA testing can determine if a cat is affected or is a carrier. A breeder should not breed from affected cats. Ask to see certificates for SMA testing results of both parents of any kittens you are planning to buy.
Hip Dysplasia (HD)
Hip dysplasia is a genetically inherited malformation of the hip joint which is prevalent in Maine Coons. Symptoms are progressive signs of lameness, from limping to an unwillingness to move. The hip joint will be painful if touched.
To prevent the continual spread of this condition, affected cats should not be bred from.
Any cats suffering from this condition can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, and surgery is an option in advanced cases.
Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)
PKD is an inherited disease where fluid-filled cysts form in the kidneys. They are present from birth in affected cats. Though they are very small, to begin with, the cysts increase in size until they affect the kidney tissue to the extent that kidney failure occurs.
Genetic testing is widely available to determine if cats are carriers of this disease. The only way to eradicate it is to refrain from breeding affected cats.
Sadly, if the cysts are present there is no treatment to prevent them from growing. The disease is progressive and there is no way to determine how quickly this will occur or how severe the symptoms will be.
Final words …
Though you can’t always know what’s around the corner when it comes to the health of a cat, as you have seen above, there are many things you can do to increase the Maine Coon lifespan and help one reach a ripe old age. Maine Coons are wonderful pets so make sure you look after yours well, enjoy every moment, and make memories to treasure.